Tales of Monkey Island: The Siege of Spinner Cay

Second verse, not as long as the first.

After the delectable first installment, my anticipation was razor-sharp. I endured the six long weeks, and dove into the Siege of Spinner Cay as soon as I could; it did not disappoint – much.

Once Guybrush manages to escape the one-way winds of Flotsam Island, he sets sail for the Jerkbait Islands to recover his fair Elaine from the now revivified hands of his arch-nemesis, LeChuck. Things get complicated when a newly zombified pirate, McGillicutty, besieges the title cay in hopes of obtaining some magical artifacts that Guybrush needs to lift the plague sweeping the Caribbean.

The art continues to be beautiful and the soundtrack to be lush and and intriguing. Telltale is expanding the cast of the Monkey Island world, and their unique additions are almost all delightful; the jolly, weird Winslow, the effervescent and slightly ditzy Morgan LeFlay, and the outlandish Marquis de Sade are all a joy to watch. I quite enjoyed Telltale’s fresh take on LeChuck. It makes a weird kind of sense to humanize him. He’s been a ghost, a zombie, and a demon; why not a mortal? The dashing, stunningly bearded LeChuck provides some of the episode’s best moments, whether he’s gallantly releasing monkeys into their natural habitats or trying to emulate his new hero, Guybrush Threepwood.

The puzzles are quite simple compared to the first chapter (and other Telltale products). I never felt the acid tinge of frustration seeping into my brain, and I never had recourse to the hint system, as I did several, several times in the first episode. They were, perhaps, even on the easy side, which was a strange experience, and a little disappointing.

The additions to the cast are not entirely successful. The ambiguously gendered merfolk are never funny; they are rather uncharismatic, and I’m not sure how the player is supposed to react to their inscrutable flirting with Guybrush. If I’m supposed to be creeped out, then they’re quite effective. McGillicutty, too, never rises above cookie-cutter levels of development, but that’s okay; the real antagonist, as always, is LeChuck.

The writing, unfortunately, is not as witty or as fun as the first chapter. Nothing made me laugh aloud. (Though Elaine came closest with, “Grow a pair of barnacles, for Blackbeard’s sake!”) The jokes seemed tired most of the time, and the plot is sadly uninspired. I actually lost interest and turned off the game after the (excellent) opening scene, which was previously unthinkable to me. I turned off Monkey Island.

The new areas are rather slim in this chapter. Flotsam Island was fairly sizable; the Jerkbait Islands are small, though not too small to have another unnavigable jungle maze. There is a general slimness to this installment, aside from the areas; the puzzles do not challenge, the plot breezes by, and the overall duration is quite brief, even for an episodic game. Let us consider this a bite between meals, then, and hope that the next chapter is a more substantial repast.